Climbing has undergone a massive upheaval in the last decade, taking it from a sport of limited recognition, all the way to the Olympic stage. In Canada, climbing has exploded, growing from a niche sport into a passion for youth and adult athletes.
Sean McColl Wins Climbing World Championships
In 2009, Sean McColl won the overall Climbing World Championship for the first time. The title was awarded to the athlete that competed the best over all three disciplines of indoor climbing: speed, bouldering, and lead climbing. This win marked the first time a Canadian had ever won the Climbing World Championship.
Canada began to establish itself as a competitive country in climbing with McColl’s victories in 2012, 2014, and 2016. All of these wins confirmed McColl’s strength in the combined format of competition. As this is the format of the Olympic Competition, it appeared that Canada might be strong enough to make the Olympic stage.
Climbing is Recognized by the IOC
In 2010, the IOC gave definitive recognition to the IFSC. This announcement brought climbing a little closer to the Olympic Games, and increased international interest in the sport. As a result of this decision, 2011 brought with it the addition of Sport Climbing, a combined discipline similar to the format of the Climbing World Championships. For the first time, there was hope that climbing would join the Olympics. In 2016, the IOC announced that climbing would become an Olympic sport in Tokyo 2020.
Toronto Hosts World Cup
In the Spring of 2014, Gravity Climbing Gym held their first international climbing competition. This world cup was the second on Canadian soil, following the first world cup held in Canmore, Alberta in 2011. In both competitions, Team Canada climber Sean McColl took bronze. The competition featured a variety of technical moves, summed up in finals problem M3.
Alannah Yip Makes Finals
In 2017, Alannah Yip became the first Canadian woman to make the finals round of an IFSC World Cup at the Chongqing Bouldering World Cup.
In September 2018, she got 13th place in bouldering and 15th place overall at the IFSC World Championships. Yip also has seven senior national titles: three lead, three boulder and one speed.
Zach Richardson and Indiana Chapman in 2018
Zach Richardson became the first Canadian to win the PanAm Boulder Championship in Ecuador. This competition put Richardson up against some of the strongest young climbers the US has to offer. including Palmer Larson, Drew Ruana and Kai Lightner. This victory made Richardson the only Canadian to win an IFSC event that year. Richardson also came sixth at Russia’s Youth Bouldering World Championships.
Indiana Chapman took home fourth place in Russia’s Youth Bouldering World Championships. She missed finals by a single spot for the second consecutive year. Chapman climbed well, the only female to to top W3.
Canadian Youth Climbing Takes on International Stage
Richardson appeared to represent the beginning of a trend for young Canadian crushers, as Dylan Le brought home bronze from Arco’s Youth World Championship this past season.
Evangelina Briggs also looked strong this year, taking home a silver medal from the 2019 USA Bouldering Youth Nationals. These strong performances from the youth categories present a strong future for Canadian climbing.
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The second local @ontarioclimbingfederation bouldering comp at @upthebloc was fun. Congratulations to @quallyclimbs 🥈and @eli.loftus 🥉 @impactclimbing @teamaspireclimbing @aspireclimbing #rockclimbing #bouldering #climbingteam #Canadianclimbing #climbhigher #uanext #teamaspireclimbing #climblikeagirl #impactclimbing #upthebloc #ontarioclimbingfederation #aspireclimbing #bouldering @scarpana
Sean McColl is Canadian Olympian
Finally, this past summer, Sean McColl achieved his dream of representing Canada in the 2020 Olympic games. Qualifying in the first round of competitions, held in August, McColl will face a strong field made of the best climbers in the world.
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Day 9: I’m going to the Olympics! 🤯 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This morning could not have gone worse; I slipped twice in speed, had a terrible boulder round, and threw a Hail Mary in Lead. Through events, some uncontrollable by myself, I managed to get enough points to qualify for the Olympics. 😍🔥 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It feels like a weird dream that I might wake up from at any given second. 🙈 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I have to take this moment, this post, to thank everyone around me. The support I feel from everyone is nothing short of amazing. My Canadian Team here on the ground (@alannah_yip @allisonvest @jason.holowach @becca_frangos @lucasuchida , the Canadian staff @head.wilson @climbCanada , our wonder Physio @lenlenlemon , all my sponsors listed below, my management team @delve.media , the whole b2ten organization; people know who they are and I appreciate every one of you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I have had the dream of going to the Olympics since before I can remember; that becoming a reality now, in the sport of climbing that I love so dearly is just … unbelievable. ❤️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @adidasterrex | @scarpana | @joerockheads | @verticalartclimbing | @flashedclimbing | @perfect_descent | @visaca #verticalart #climbing #train #canada #instagood #picoftheday #photooftheday #athlete #igers #amazing #sports #fitspo #gymlife #power #fitfam #adventure #fitness #work #workhard #workout #strength #challenge #follow #ninja #gym #fun #olympics #olympics2020